Special IL House Committee Has Fiery First Day of Testimony

By Benjamin Cox on September 30, 2020 at 7:27pm

Rep. Emmanuel "Chris" Welch listens to the opening statements made by House Republican Leader Jim Durkin on Tuesday. (Photo Courtesy of BlueRoom Stream)

Illinois Representatives got into heated debate over the issuing of subpoenas to multiple potential witnesses in their investigation of House Speaker Michael Madigan’s involvement in the bribery scheme outlined in ComEd’s Deferred Prosecution Agreement with the federal government.

Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin was allowed to give opening statements at the meeting Tuesday after a 5-1 committee vote. Durkin laid out specific examples of the alleged corrupt relationship between ComEd and Madigan in his statement: “In this case, Commonwealth Edison has admitted to a scheme that has spanned almost a decade where Speaker Michael Madigan sought to obtain from ComEd jobs, vendors, subcontractors, and ultimately a board position for his associates including precinct captains who operated in his legislative district. Commonwealth Edison admitted that they paid person after person, who [are] associated with Speaker Michael Madigan, thousands of dollars even though those Madigan associates did little or no work. Commonwealth Edison also admitted that several of its executives and agents knew the purpose of these payments; and that was to influence and reward Michael Madigan in connection with his official duties.”

The meeting Tuesday also had testimony presented by ComEd Executive Vice President for Compliance and Audit David Glockner. Glockner said he had only been with the company since March and did not personally witness any of the wrongdoing in the Deferred Prosecution Agreement. Glockner confirmed in his testimony that payments were made by ComEd in part to influence the Speaker’s actions. Chairman of the Investigation Committee, Representative Emmanuel “Chris” Welch, asked Glockner if the DPA had shown that Madigan had any personal knowledge of the scheme. Glockner agreed that nowhere in the DPA did it indicate Madigan’s direct knowledge of patronage hiring or bribery.

Madigan has not been charged with any crime and maintains that he has done nothing wrong. Earlier Tuesday, former ComEd executive Fidel Marquez plead guilty to his part in the bribery scheme. Marquez is still cooperating with federal authorities in the ongoing investigation and is not due to be sentenced until next year. Marquez could face 5-7 years in prison.

Republicans issued motions to issue subpoenas to Madigan, former Com-Ed CEO Anne Pramaggiore, Quincy lobbyist and Madigan confidant Michael McClain, among others who all denied their invitation to testify on Tuesday. Welch denied the subpoena motion as chair, calling it “out of order” and “premature.” Welch went on to thank Durkin for his statement and said he looked forward to have Durkin return before the committee and testify under oath about his role in legislation that involved ComEd. Welch has suggested Durkin be called as a witness because he helped pass legislation that was beneficial to Commonwealth Edison. The legislation is mentioned in the deferred prosecution agreement.

Welch’s own credibility on the committee also came into question earlier this week. Chicago’s WBEZ reported that Welch’s ties to over a dozen members closely tied with him, including 6 immediate family members including Welch’s wife, were recommended by Madigan for state jobs last year. Records obtained by WBEZ showed that Madigan’s office suggested to Governor J.B. Pritzker’s Office more people with connections to Welch than anybody else during the first few months after Pritzker was sworn in as governor. Illinois Republicans have accused Welch of inhibiting the committee’s actions due to his close ties to the Speaker. Welch and Madigan both have accused Republicans of politicizing the legislative investigation ahead of the November elections.